At just 6 years old, Judah Haven Marr already has sport fishing figured out.
“Fishing is about patience, not about trying to catch a fish too fast,” Haven Marr said.
Haven Marr was one of hundreds of children who participated in Family Fishing Day at Twin Lakes on Saturday. A cooperation between the Alaska Department of Fish &Game and the Douglas Island Pink and Chum hatchery, Twin Lakes was stocked with 7,000 small king salmon for the event, which has taken place annually for almost 20 years.
DIPAC raised the king salmon, which were grown in net pens at the hatchery for three years instead of the typical two, DIPAC’s Adam Zaleski told the Empire in a Thursday phone interview.
While watching his dad cast a hook baited with small bits of shrimp, Haven Marr explained that he likes looking at and holding fish, which feel “scaly, slimy and floppy” in his hands.
He likes to release them after he catches them, though.
“What I really like is to get to wait for the fish and get a good look at them,” he said.
Haven Marr’s father hooked a fish but lost it within seconds.
“That’s why they call it fishing and not catching,” Haven Marr said.
The angler’s wisdom Haven Marr showed is exactly what ADF&G sport fish manager Daniel Teske is trying to inspire at the event. An early appreciation for sport fishing is what Family Fishing Day is all about, Teske said.
“I think ultimately the goal is just to get people outside and teach them life skills in terms of sport fishing,” Teske said. “I am more of a hands-on type of learner, so I like to get the kids out practicing casting, tying knots and baiting their own hooks.”
Teske was at the event loaning fishing gear free of charge to attendees. Proceeds from sport fishing licenses pay for the event. It’s a way Fish &Game likes to “pay back” sport fishermen, Teske said.
As ADF&G was wrapping up their gear rental hours, which ended at 3 p.m., their checkout lists showed a total of 327 rod and reel rentals.
The U.S. Forest Service and members of the Coast Guard Auxilliary were also on hand to teach families and children about water safety. Row boats were available for families to take out, though a stiff wind making its way up Gastineau Channel made returning them difficult.
Coast Guard Auxiliary member Jean Butler explained that water safety starts with good role modeling from parents. She was helping children and parents fit life vests at a shoreside station. She cautioned parents to make sure their kids have life vests on even when just fishing from shore.
Even a few feet of water can be dangerous for children.
“You need a life jacket on before you fall in the water to make sure you’re safe. We especially want kids to wear them becuase some of these embankments are steep and it’s easy to fall in,” Butler said. “And also it just reinforces that whenever they are around the water, they should have a life jacket on.”
Butler stressed making sure life jackets are properly fitted, which can make the difference in an emergency.
The king salmon remaining in the lake are available to catch for the rest of the year, ADF&G regulations posted at Twin Lakes say. There are no size restrictions on the king salmon, trout or Dolly Varden that call Twin Lakes home.
Anglers are allowed to keep up to 10 king salmon a day, with 10 in possession; five trout a day, with five in possession; and two Dolly Varden a day, with two in possession.
Elias Ward, age 10, and his 7-year-old brother Tyler hadn’t caught anything that day, but that wasn’t the point. Like Haven Marr, Elias Ward gets that it’s called fishing, and not catching, for a reason.
“I like fishing. The pole feels good in your hands and it takes away time if you have some,” Elias Ward said, adding that he was going to keep at it, even if he wasn’t having any luck.
For more information on water safety, visit www.watersafetycongress.org
• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.